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Rental car or train from Rome? Parking in Florence, Cinque Terra and Venice

We are 3 adults traveling in mid to late May from Rome to Florence, Cinque Terra, Venice, Sienna and back to Rome. We rented a car last year for a trip to Amsterdam, Germany, France and Brussels and all went well. We planned to rent a car again so we can drive around the southern Tuscany areas but realizing parking may be a problem in some of these cities. Recommendations, please.

Posted by
196 posts

I'd take the train from Rome to Orvieto and pick the car up there. That way you avoid driving in Rome...
I'd use the car from there to visit Umbria, Tuscany and then use the train to visit Cinque Terra and Venice. You can also do without a car in Florence and it's also best not to have one for Sienna but that will depend on what you plan to do/see. You may bus there from Florence.
Most Italian cities can be enjoyed without a fact the car can become a real nuisance to deal with...parking, restricted areas etc. can offer up challenges.

Posted by
5880 posts

Traveling Italy is different with ZTL's and radar cameras issuing traffic tickets. And Roman cities were not built for automobiles making parking very difficult or expensive.
Many would suggest you take a fast train Rome to Florence.
Sienna is a day trip by bus from Florence as the bus takes you into the center city. The buses are across from the train station to the right of McDonalds.
You could take a train over to LaSpezia and connect to a local train into Cinque Terre. When you leave, take a train to LaSpezia and connect to a train bound for Venice.
You could either fly home from Venice or take a fast train back to Rome.
If you want to take a daytrip to the hilltowns south of Florence, renting a car in Florence is easy at Hertz on Sansovino, 2 mi. from the train station.

Posted by
1202 posts

Rome to Florence, Cinque Terra, Venice, Sienna and back to Rome

How long is your trip? Have you looked at a map? Your listed route is not efficient.

If possible, I'd do open jaw into Rome and work up to Venice or fly into Venice and work down to Rome. If you need to fly in and out of Rome, I suggest the following:
Fly into Rome, take fast train to Florence
Visit Florence
Take train to Venice (allow at least half a day for move)
Visit Venice
Take train back to Florence, rent car and drive to Siena (full day)
Visit Siena and nearby hill towns
Leave car in Siena and take train to La Spezia
Visit CT
Take train to Rome
Visit Rome

To do all of the above, you'll need at least three weeks. If you have less than three weeks, you should trim. I'd remove CT and Venice.

Posted by
9537 posts

Rome to Florence, Cinque Terra, Venice, Sienna and back to Rome.

Hi and welcome to the forum!

IMHO, a car will be nothing but a nuisance - and a potentially expensive one - for all of the above. As suggested, do the reading about ZTLs and parking restrictions. Understand as well that many, many city accommodations do not provide parking, and I personally wouldn't be comfortable leaving unattended luggage in a vehicle if sightseeing between locations.

As you won't be using a vehicle to get around in the cities (trust me on this; your own two feet or public transit when necessary are your best options) it's also a waste of a rental to leave it sit for days on end. The trains between the major cities are fast, comfortable and relatively inexpensive; nice price breaks are often possible if you book in advance. The regionale trains within the C.T. will be very crowded in May but parking spaces - even assuming they're not completely full during high season - can be a hike from certain of the villages.

That said, a fair number of folks rent one just for a day or so to explore the Tuscan or Umbrian countryside. You have a fair amount of destinations on your list: I'm curious how much time, how many nights on the ground, you've allotted for this trip? Have you made an itinerary you can share?

Posted by
1744 posts

Tuscany by car is reasonable. There is a public parking lot at the bottom of the hill for Sienna, so that means a taxi, bus or walk up the hill to the actual town. Or do as stated and take the bus from Florence for the day. It is quite the walk. There is virtually no cars or parking in Cinque Terre. So, train or bus works best for the large cities and CT.

Posted by
3828 posts

There is parking in Siena, one is a short walk from town center. In the Cinque Terre, Monterosso has parking lots. In Venice, parking is located at Piazzale Roma. Florence, parking at train station is available plus others are available. A car is best for exploring Tuscany.

Posted by
2087 posts

I love to drive on my European vacations and have done so in Italy but no more unless I’m going to an area where I want to see something that I cannot unless I have a car. Train transportation in Italy is convenient, stress free and economical. Last year I spent 3 1/2 weeks in Italy and rented a car twice. Once to drive the Great Dolomites Road (WOW!) from Padova to Bolzano to Verona. You can only see the great wine towns of the Piedmont by car and drive through Val d’Aosta to Courmayeur to take the Monte Bianco Skyway if you have a car. So, for a 25 day trip I only needed a car for 7 days. Other than that, visiting Trieste, Padova, Vicenza, Bologna, Parma, Ravenna and Turino was all done by rail. No ZTL’s, radar cams, traffic tutors, tolls or expensive parking garages.

I never thought I’d endorse traveling this way but now I do. Just remember the old Greyhound slogan from years back “Take the bus and leave the driving to us!”

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks so much for all of this great information. Car is definitely out and flying out of Venice instead of Rome is in, thanks to David. My husband and I have been to southern Tuscany on a bike trip and to Rome and Florence on sightseeing trips but have never been to Cinque Terra or Venice. We are bringing our daughter who has never been to Italy and will graduate from UGA on May 10th so we want her to see Florence and Rome as well.

We depart Atlanta on May 14th. At this point, the only thing we have purchased is a cheap flight into Amsterdam on Scott's Cheap Flights. We are staying in Amsterdam only 2 nights since we were there last April to see the tulips. The tentative plan for this year is to fly Alitalia from Amsterdam to Rome. Rome for 2 nights, South Tuscany 2 nights (possibly Siena), Florence 2 nights, Cinque Terra 2 nights and Venice 2 nights. Fly from Venice to Amsterdam on May 27th and fly Amsterdam to Atlanta on May 28th.

I have no idea how the trains and buses work so if anyone has any suggestions on how to proceed or mix up this itinerary it would be much appreciated. Roni

Posted by
3023 posts

Hi Roni, and welcome to the Forum.

For trains in Italy use this site to check travel times and purchase tickets.

This path should flow a little betters so you're not crisscrossing the country.

May 14. Travel.

May 15. Arrive Amsterdam. 2 Nites

May 16. Amsterdam.

May 17. AMS-FCO. 2H10m. Arrive Rome. 3 Nites.

May 18. Rome.

May 19. Rome.

May 20. Rome Termini-La Spezia 4H42m.
Then 6-28 min to CT village if choice.
There's an intercity train #510 that leaves Rome at 9:57 that will get there at 14:22. CT 2 nites.

May 21. CT.

May 22. CT-Florence (Firenze SMN)
9:03-12:00. 2H29m. 3 nites Florence.

May 23. Florence.

May 24. Day trip to Siena by bus. 1H17m.

May 25. Florence-Venice (Venezia S. Lucia)
2H05m. 2 nites Venice.

May 26. Venice.

May 27. VCE-AMS
1 nite Amsterdam.

May 28. Travel.

This is an extremely fast pace, and if it were me, I'd skip the CT this trip and use 1 of those nites for Rome and the second for an overnight in Siena.

It would look like this.

Amsterdam 2N-Rome 4N-Florence 1N-Siena 1N-Florence 2N-Venice 2N-Amsterdam 1N

May 21.

Posted by
30010 posts


One point to keep in mind is that staying two nights in each location only allows a bit more than a day for actual sightseeing. Each change of location will usually take at least four hours, when all is considered. That means you would only have the latter part of the arrival afternoon and the next day for sightseeing. The morning after that you'd check out of your hotel after breakfast and head to your next destination. Especially in the Cinque Terre, that wouldn't allow much time to see the five towns.

It's good to hear that you've decided to ditch the car, as that would have been a slower a less efficient way to cover the spots you want to see. There are some potentially expensive caveats to be aware of with driving in Italy, but that also applies to using trains and other public transit there.

The last Itinerary you posted is not exactly "efficient". I can offer more detailed Itinerary suggestions if you're interested.

Posted by
9537 posts

Probably just a personal preference but I might also look at flipping Gerri's itinerary so that you fly home from Rome instead. That would eliminate a last night in Amsterdam, and the possibility of an annoyingly early U.S. flight out of Venice.

May 14. Travel.
May 15. Arrive Amsterdam - 2 Nites/1.5 days
May 16. Amsterdam.
May 17. AMS- Venice - 2 Nites/1.5 days
May 18. Venice
May 19. Venice to Florence - 3 nights/2.5 days
May 20. Florence/day trip to Siena
May 21. Florence
May 22. Florence to CT - 2 nights/1.5 days
There is a 7:28 AM train from Firenze Campo di Marte station to La Spezia in 1h, 43 min., no changes. Yes it's early but this is the fastest you can reach the region during the day so would maximize your time.
May 23. CT
May 24. CT to Rome - 4 nights/3.5 days
May 25. Rome
May 26. Rome
May 27. Rome
May 28. Travel

I have the same concern as the others about an exhausting itinerary of just 2 nights in each place - especially given the wearing, high-season crowds - and might consider scrapping the CT as well, although I sense it's a priority. I've given extra time to Rome as it's the biggest city to try and cover but you could shuffle one day to another city (Venice?) which may interest you more.

Posted by
21522 posts

Agree with Kathy, just above.

I'd check what time that Amsterdam flight is from Venice. Be sure that it goes from VCE not Treviso - if it is Treviso it will be Ryan Air with all of its usual problems.

Many intra-European flights from Venice fly early in the morning and are inconvenient. It means getting up very early and either paying for a water taxi or taking the vaporetto and then a bus. Either way 6 or 7 am flights from Venice are to be avoided if you can. There usually aren't those problems from Rome.

Posted by
6 posts

We really appreciate the suggestions and want to cut a city from our trip. What if we cut out Florence for overnight and just did an afternoon of walking to take in an overview of the sights for our daughter? My husband and I were there just a few years ago.
As far as priorities, I want to see Cinque Terra and Venice since we've never been, my husband wants to go back to the smaller towns in Tuscany like Montepulciano and Cortona, although we've never been to Siena. Our daughter just wants to go to Italy.

I like the idea of flying into Venice and out of Rome which puts our two big cities (Amsterdam and Rome) on opposite ends of the trip. We can't cancel Amsterdam since that is the only flight already booked.
Would it be feasible if we
- fly Amsterdam to Venice and stay 2 nights in Venice
- take the train to Florence, rent a car in Florence and store our luggage in the car, walk around Florence and then drive to Montepulciano. or another small town and use that as a base for 3 nights to drive around Tuscany
-Return rental car in Florence and take train/bus to Cinque Terra for 2 nights
-Train from Cinque Terra to Rome and stay in Rome for 3 nights.
If that makes sense, can you please suggest train and or bus stations? If it doesn't make sense can you put these locations in a better order?

May 17-27, 2019
5/17 Amsterdam to Venice

5/18 Venice
5/19 Venice to Florence and stay in Multepulciano

5/20 Montepulciano

5/21 Montepulciano

5/22 Montepulcian to Cinque Terra

5/23 Cinque Terra

5/24 Cinque Terra to Rome

5/25 Rome

5/26 Rome
5/27 Rome to Amsterdam
5/28 Amsterdam to USA

I am so appreciative of your suggestions and so happy I found this Forum. Warm regards, Roni

Posted by
3023 posts

This would be a much better path.

Venice-Florence. 2H05m. Leave by 7-8AM. Drop bags @ station, Deposito Bagagli.
Leave by 6-7PM.

Full day in Florence.

Florence-La Spezia. 2H27. Plus regional train to CT village of choice. 6-28 minutes. Also check with your lodging to see if there's a charge for late arrival.

CT- La Spezia. Pick up car. We use this one.

Since you've never driven in Italy, please read this and download their PDF, to avoid surprise tickets when you return home. You will also need an IDP, available at AAA for each driver,
It's a translation of your license.
Heavy fine for not having one.

Drive to Montepulciano 2H50m. Many towns to stop at along the way. Chose one for a visit, to reach your lodging by check in time.

Montepulciano-Rome. 2 choices.
Return car in Chiusi, 30 min. Train to Rome 1H52.

Drive Montepulciano-Roma Tiburtina 2H 15m.
Train or taxi to lodging.

Have a great trip